Saturday, 25 January 2014

Arthur's Transformation


    Never Give Up!

    Why this video affected me so much...


    The first time I watched Arthur Boorman's story I teared up really bad. If you aren't one of the 10 million people who watched his video on youtube, then you don't know what you are missing. Arthur was a disabled veteran of the Gulf War for fifteen years. Doctors told him that he would never be able to walk on his own ever, again. Then he began practicing yoga... This video really hits close to home for me. What many don't know about me is that before I ever ran my first full marathon, and long before I became a Marathon Maniac, I suffered from excuiating pain in both knees. The signs were there in the beginning but I chose to ignore them. Blaming it on my badminton playing, which I was quite into at the time, playing at least three nights a week. Then before I realised it the pain grew so great. I had trouble getting in and out of the car. I had trouble walking up or down stairs. I couldn't even play badminton anymore. It was a cartilage problem. All manner of pain came when I tried using my knees. Just a regular walk caused me so much discomfort.

    Bits of my cartilage in my knee were jabbing into the surrounding areas. It must have disintegrated from my years playing badminton, ping pong and then tennis. These games all require sudden change of moments and stressed my knees to the max. I definitely didn't want to go on the knife. Have seen very athletic people who had to have multiple operations, and still walked with much difficulty. Have also met success stories. However I didn't want to take the risk. My late mother had problems with her legs, and I feared I was following in her footsteps. At the recommendation of a pharmacist friend I began taking megadoses of glucosamine. He told me to take 3g every morning half an hour before I ate anything else. So that's what I did. However I needed something for the pain. That's way the painkillers come in. I took large doses of it every day. Slowly but surely my pharmacist asked me to reduce the dosage of painkillers, which I reluctantly did. It came to the point where I was taking one-tenth of what I took in the beginning.

    At my worst I couldn't even make a jump shot because of all the before and after pain. Worst still was the fact that I moved the ball like I was in my eighties. Bending to get the ball was next to impossible. Squatting to get the ball meant that I had to get up again, which hurt so bad. The temptation to increase my painkilling dosage was always there. There were so many things I couldn't do. If the escalator wasn't working, forget it. There was no way I could walk up or down it. The elevator was my friend. And yes I put on weight. However I kept on going. I kept on taking the glucosamine. Then over time it got easy to walk. It also got easier to go up and down stairs. However I kept on falling back on those painkillers. Then I went cold turkey. That week was the hardest in my life. It was even harder than  giving up smoking. Yes, I have been smoke free for more than two decades. That's another story altogether. However I persevered. Gradually I decreased the dosage of glucosamine to a maintenance level of 500mg.

    All told it was a three year journey for me. I never played badminton again. My weight had ballooned up. I started walking more and then jogging a bit. However it wasn't a regular thing. I would do it when the mood was there. It went on like this for years. Every time I started jogging regularly something came up to put a stop to it for awhile. What I did do was walk a lot. The joy of being able to walk without any discomfort was irresistible. I would walk great distances whenever I could. The walking helped keep my weight in check. I was never one to control my eating. Dieting never worked for me. Then along came the Spring Live Active Run 2012 and my first official 5km run and a whole knew life, unbeknownst to me back then, awaited me. I found something I thoroughly enjoyed. This running thing was good for me. I marveled at what my legs could do. Being a person prone to doing things on a whim and a prayer I signed up for the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2012. The distance was 42.195km. Till today I can still feel the joy of finishing it.

    Looking back on how I was before the dawn of the new Millennium, it's hard to believe how many kilometers I have run now.  I may not have the speed, but I run, and given enough time I will reach the finish line. I know I can do it. My mind, after all that I have endured, is terribly strong. I have been in the pit of despair. Now every time I finish a race, especially a full marathon, I am still amazed that I can do this. I want to do as much as I can, when I still can. I don't know how long my knees will hold together. However I know I am prepared to do what it takes to continue to run for as long as I can. If it means running slow so be it. If it means running shorter distances as I get older, then that's what I will do. I am not prepared to give up running. It gives me so much joy. It has made me a healthier and better person. It has opened a whole new world to me. I have made so many new friends. I will do my best to promote running to everyone, young and old. It's the easiest form of exercise. Just step outside and run.

    So now you know why Arthur's transformation affected me so. Arthur never gave up. He believed. Whatever your health levels you have to believe you can transcend your current situation. Arthur discovered yoga. I discovered running. The mind is a wonderful thing that never ceases to amaze me. If you believe you can and work hard at it, and never give up, you might find what Arthur and I found. It is too easy to say it cannot be done. Go and challenge yourself. What is 42.195km for me now? It is only a number. I respect it but I do not fear it. Don't sit on the couch feeling sorry for yourself if something ails you. Get up and do something about it. Make a pledge that you will transform your life. It may not even be a disability or an injury. It could be any sort of transformation. The positive benefits will carry into all aspects of your life. I have achieved so many things through running that I want to keep on running for the rest of my life. Running will forever be my happy place. I cannot show you how I was but Arthur can show you how he was.

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